Over 2.5 million people will die as a result of nuclear testing.

The governments of countries that have developed nuclear weapons have tended not to take into account the effects of nuclear testing on the people’s health or the environment. They have readily exposed people to fallout, and have left large quantities of radioactive material underground without seriously studying what the potential harm to future generations might be.

This is true of all the nuclear states, and in most cases it is hard to get access to information. We know most about the USA. For example, the choice of a nuclear test site ignored both the evidence of the first test and the recommendation of the chief commander in charge of safety. Convenience was more important than the risks of contamination.  In order to make the public accept nuclear tests near their homes, U.S. military planners recommended a 're-education' campaign to 'correct' people's 'hysterical or alarmist complex' about the dangers of radiation. Public education about the danger of radiation was replaced by public relations and propaganda.

There has been a general refusal to look at the problems arising from nuclear tests. No government has made a serious effort to estimate the long-term consequences of underground testing.
The people whose health has suffered are mostly those who live in rural areas, or who belong to ethnic or other minorities, or who have no vote: this is because governments have tended to situate their test sites in remote areas inhabited by such groups. The United States has tested in the Marshall islands – a region put under its care by the United Nations.

Nevada test site

The surreal landscape of the Nevada desert nuclear test site  

The US test site in Nevada is on land claimed by a Native American group, the Shoshone. The United Kingdom also tested in the Pacific, and in areas of Australia inhabited by aboriginal people. France set up test sites in its colonies - first Algeria, then in the Pacific. The principal former Soviet test site is in Kazakhstan, home of the Kazakhs and far from the Russian homeland. The Chinese test site at Lop Nor is in an area where most of the people are Uighur, an ethnic group whose human rights have often been violated.

Estimates that radioactive materials absorbed into the bodies of human beings, as a result of nuclear tests, would cause at least 430,000 deaths from cancer by 1999 have been shown to be accurate. On that basis the total could grow to 2.4 million. The greatest cancer risk from fallout is in the latitude band between 40 and 50 degrees north.

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